If you have any questions about how the changes to California’s parentage law might affect you, you should get in touch with one of our dedicated family law attorneys at Fenchel Family Law for legal counsel. We have experience working with paternity matters and issues concerning LGBT families. Please call us at (415) 650-1112 or contact us online today to schedule a consultation about your case.
In 2018, California amended provisions of its version of the Uniform Parentage Act, with some amendments taking effect on January 1, 2020. Specifically, the amendments concern the Voluntary Declarations of Paternity in order to address issues affecting LGBT couples starting families using assisted reproduction technology.
California Family Law: Changes to Voluntary Declarations of Paternity
A parent-child relationship and the rights and responsibilities that come with it may be established using a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity. However, this method of establishing paternity was only available to unmarried mothers and the child’s genetic father.
California Family Code § 7573 provides that “a completed voluntary declaration of paternity…shall establish the paternity of a child and shall have the same force and effect as a judgment for paternity issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. The voluntary declaration of paternity shall be recognized as a basis for the establishment of an order for child custody, visitation, or child support.”
California Family Code § 7574 required Voluntary Declarations of Paternity to contain the following information:
- "The name and the signature of the mother.
- The name and the signature of the father.
- The name of the child.
- The date of birth of the child.
- A statement by the mother that she has read and understands the written materials described in Section 7572, that the man who has signed the voluntary declaration of paternity is the only possible father, and that she consents to the establishment of paternity by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity.
- A statement by the father that he has read and understands the written materials described in Section 7572, that he understands that by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity he is waiving his rights as described in the written materials, that he is the biological father of the child, and that he consents to the establishment of paternity by signing the voluntary declaration of paternity.”
The Family Code provisions governing voluntary declarations establishing paternity were gender-specific. As a result, these provisions could be read in a way that excludes its application to LGBT couples using assisted reproductive technology to have a child.
Beginning on January 1, 2020, California Family Code § 7573 will apply to all couples regardless of sexual orientation. Instead of a “Voluntary Declaration of Paternity,” people will file a “Voluntary Declaration of Parentage” (emphasis added).
The new language enacted under Section 7573 allows the following people to sign a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage:
- “An unmarried woman who gave birth to the child and another person who is a genetic parent.
- A married or unmarried woman who gave birth to the child and another person who is a parent [seeking parentage]…of a child conceived through assisted reproduction.”
Also beginning effect on January 1, 2020, the information on a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage no longer has language relying on the gender-specific labels of “mother” and “father.”
Section 7574’s new language contains the following:
- “The name and the signature of the woman who gave birth to the child.
- The name and the signature of the person seeking to establish parentage.
- The name of the child.
- The date of birth of the child…”
Section 7574 also specifies the type of statements required depending on whether the declaration is signed by an unmarried woman and the genetic parent, or mothers—whether married or unmarried—and a person seeking to establish parentage who qualifies as a parent of a child using assisted reproductive technology.